First Open / Zero-Cost Introductory Psychiatry Course Launched Fall 21 – York College / CUNY

The Department of Behavioral Sciences, chaired by Professor Debra Swoboda, has done important work to convert all sections of her Introduction to Psychology (Psych 102) course in 2021-2022 to OER / zero cost and save tens of thousands dollars to students. in textbook costs in the process. The department voted to switch to the free, open-ended, Introduction to Psychology textbook by Jorden A. Cummings and Lee Sanders (University of Saskatchewan). Open educational resources have been one of the main solutions to the problem of the exorbitant costs of commercial textbooks, which is closely linked to academic success and student retention rates.

The impetus for the open / zero-cost move for PSY 102 came from Professor Swoboda’s conversations with College NOW coordinator Lester Raphael, who discussed similar initiatives for psychology, sociology and of Political Science from the College NOW program. Faculty in the department based their choice on the University of Saskatchewan textbook by carefully weighing factors such as content, readability, quality of visuals, and mobile compatibility in their choice of textbook, modeling how such decisions could be made in the future. Professor Susan Austin, coordinator of PSY 102, wrote the new curriculum for all sections. Training was held on the well regarded digital annotation platform Perusall to motivate greater engagement with the online manual.

Funding for this large-scale conversion was provided by the New York State CUNY OER grant, which encourages the allocation of free, open-ended textbooks and course materials to students, now in its fourth year. The initiative was advised by the Director of the Center for Teaching, Learning and Educational Technology at York College, Dr. Greet Van Belle, and the Coordinator of Open Educational Resources, Dr. Katherine Tsan.

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